Monica Bulger, a Ph.D. student at UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School, has been named a 2006-2007 Integrative Graduate Education Research Traineeship (IGERT) Fellow. This prestigious award, a National Science Foundation initiative, promoting innovative, interdisciplinary research, includes a $30,000 stipend and 100% coverage of student fees, non-resident tuition, and health insurance. Bulger’s work in the Interactive Digital Multimedia program studies the impact of classroom technologies on learning, integrating methods from the fields of education, psychology, and computer science. Her goal is to discover not only which computer programs and environments help students learn, but also how to determine accurately what new technologies work.
Prof. Kevin Almeroth from Computer Science, one of Bulger’s faculty mentors, states, “Monica not only has a tremendous ability to see research areas from multiple perspectives, but she also has the ability to facilitate communication between researchers from disparate disciplines. Even more impressive is Monica's ability to bring these skills to the field of educational technology.”
“Through this research, I am beginning to better understand how students interact with technology and how this interaction affects their learning and academic performance,” Bulger wrote in her IGERT application. “Just as importantly, my research serves to develop and refine tools for future studies of the interaction between students and the technologies they use for learning.” Bulger plans to study the pedagogical applications of classroom technologies by looking at student engagement and learning outcomes in both large lectures and small classrooms across the disciplines. She will move beyond using only behavioral analysis software (actually a modified, benign spyware program used to analyze student computer usage) to gauge student interactions and use log files generated by course management and personal response systems as well as in-class surveys, institutional data, and analyses of student work. These multiple methods of data collection again represent an intersection of educational, psychological, and computer science approaches and thereby find more helpful, complex information.
Initiated in 1997, the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program was developed to meet the challenges of educating Ph.D. scientists and engineers with the multidisciplinary backgrounds and the technical, professional, and personal skills needed for the career demands of the future. Jim Teeri, Director, of the IGERT National Recruitment Program, has said, “In the last 10 years, there has been a growing realization that the really big problems in science are not going to be solved within one discipline. The big complex problems, like those affecting the environment or advances in information technology, will require expertise from many areas.”
[Monica Bulger is available for interviews; to set up an interview contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789.]